WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) called on the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office of Management and Budget to immediately produce all subpoenaed documents regarding the Committees’ investigation into the Administration’s decision to make Cost-Sharing Reduction (CSR) program payments from the permanent appropriation for tax refunds and credits. The Obama Administration has withheld information from the Committees about the CSR program for more than one year, relying on litigation to justify its obstruction.
Earlier this month, Judge Collyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, the Obama Administration has made billions of dollars in payments to health insurers under the CSR program without an appropriation from Congress.
In their letters, the Chairmen wrote:
“Much of the Administration’s objection to the Committees’ oversight is seemingly rooted in its purported concerns about disclosing information related to the ongoing litigation brought by the House regarding the cost sharing reduction program. As we explained to you in December, the litigation did not deprive the Committees of their respective oversight authorities and obligations, and was not a valid basis for the Department to refuse to respond to congressional oversight requests.
“Those objections notwithstanding, however, the district court has rendered its decision on the merits of the case.”
The Chairmen concluded:
“The district court’s ruling that the cost sharing reduction payments made by your Department violated the U.S. Constitution clearly demonstrates that misconduct has occurred. We remind you that the deliberative process privilege, if grounds for one ever existed, ‘disappears altogether when there is any reason to believe government misconduct [has] occurred.’ Therefore, we expect your Department to immediately produce all documents responsive to the subpoenas[.].”
On November 21, 2014 then-Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) filed a lawsuit on behalf of House Republicans in response to the Administration’s improper use of taxpayer dollars to make payments – the CSR payments – to insurance companies on the Obamacare exchanges.
While current law authorizes the government to make CSR payments, the Constitution requires that Congress expressly appropriate funds for this purpose before the Administration can make any payments to insurers. As the Constitution requires, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” On May 12, 2016, a federal judge ruled in favor of the House of Representatives that the Administration has no constitutional or statutory authority to spend taxpayer funds that Congress has not appropriated. Insurers are still required by law to offer lower co-payments, deductibles, and other cost-sharing reductions to eligible individuals.